Given my musings about spirituality with people I know, I have been asked the fundamental question ‘What is Spirituality?’. So, I thought I would write a small note on that. In pre-Google era I would have written what I felt, at the risk of making the piece subjective. However, given Google is here, I did a little bit of research on Spirituality and read a few material. However, some of the material did not convince me, especially where spirituality and religion were blended. So, I am going back to what I think!
Firstly, Spirituality comes from Spirit or Soul. Now, what is spirit? It is not like body and mind that can be felt or communicated with. Soul is I, the me (not the ego). Now, I have often subscribed to the yogic philosophy of spirituality because that has made most sense to me (post studying different versions from Buddhism, etc). According to Patanjali, yoga has eight limbs – Yama (attitude towards the environment), Niyama (attitude towards ourselves), Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (mediation) and Samadhi (complete integration). Now, each of these limbs is a study in itself, and we shall restrain from it.
In older times, a yogic student was taught all these disciplines of yoga for a spiritual life. If you go deeper into Pranayama, or meditation, many yogis attained Sindhis (as is ascertained in popular books by Swami Rama and Paramhansa Yogananda) and even Moksha.
Now, this is not the older or ancient times, and we live in a worldly word where practising spirituality is a task in itself. In this chaotic space, spirituality has to come from first awareness, then learning and then practicing.
For example, let us take our tendency to get angry at another person. I am considering a normal, everyday situation and not a serious crime which infuses anger. If we are aware of our mind, and be conscious of the thought that we do not have to anger ourselves, that is the first step. Like any practice, we need an intent to do it. Superficial vows won’t work. First, please realise that if you expand your ability to forgive, anger will not occur in the first place. Second, we have to realise that anger is self-punishment. Third, it rarely ever solves the purpose. Fourth, the object or person that has angered you is suffering himself probably so they need love than resentment.
Spirituality is consciousness in motion. You may strengthen your awareness with techniques like mediation (of any kind or form), mindfulness or mantra chanting. In yogic terms, Yoga means Chitta Vritti Nirodha which loosely translates into “cessation of fluctuation of mind.” This is yoga, and not pop culture acrobatic postures that you see on Instagram.
There is indeed science to spirituality. There have been researches and experiments. It has now been proven that mindfulness releases feel good neurotransmitters such as serotonin. You can alter your brain wave with Pranayama or mantra recitation. These changes happen at mind-body level.
In metaphysical terms, oneness is spirituality. We are micro consciousness of the macro consciousness. It has also been proven in quantum physics.
To simplify, to be spiritual, focus on positive energies and remove negative energies. That would be the first step. It is all about practice. That who has started practicing even 1 percent is greater than that arrogant scholar of the Bhagavat Gita who purely a guardian of knowledge.